Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The 2014 Innovative Solution Awards


By Lisa Terry
Posted Date: 8/5/2014
Solving a problem. Driving innovation. Delivering ROI. Creating something unique and cool. Accomplishing just one of these is great. Doing all four at the same time is downright difficult. But that’s just what the winners of the annual Innovative Solutions Awards—a collaboration between VSR Magazine and the Retail Solutions Providers Association—have accomplished. Our judges—writers, editors and industry leaders—considered a boatload of entries from vendors, consultants, solution providers and end users, ultimately selecting six as winners of the 2014 Innovative Solution Awards.

VSR Magazine and the RSPA would like to congratulate the recipients of this year’s awards, which were presented at the RSPA’s RetailNOW Convention and Expo during the show’s awards banquet on August 5 in Orlando.

Payment Processing

By iDriveThru

If the best things come to those who wait, it stands to reason they can come while waiting to pay at the Dunkin Donuts drive-through—from an eight-year-old.

That was the genesis of iDriveThru, conceived by Eli Grinvald’s daughter while getting breakfast at DD while on vacation. Why can’t the RFID toll tag be used to pay for their meal, Grinvald wondered, and why don’t they know who we are and what we want by now?

He soon discovered the RFID toll tag would really be the best way to recognize customers and transact payment. The northeast’s EZPass toll system doesn’t lend itself to commercial transactions, but the tag does, and there are 110 million parking or toll tags out there. He and three partners founded iDriveThru
(idrivethru.com) and designed a system that overcomes the problems that doomed previous toll tag payment systems.

Where the solution really delivers value is in places where you stop, order, fumble for a wallet and pay, like quick service, parking, car washes, pharmacies and amusement parks.

Consumers opt in by linking a payment card to the device ID on their existing transponder (EZ-Pass, Sun­Pass, etc.). An RFID reader above the ordering intercom reads the toll tag and a customer-facing monitor welcomes the user by name, displays reward points and notifies the cashier. Complete POS integration, using Datacaps NETePayintegrated payments software, allows for an intuitive ordering process, then the consumer is invited to pay with iDriveThru. The cashier taps a button on the POS and the transaction is complete. NETePay communicates with iDriveThru servers to obtain the user’s tokenized card data and forwards it to the merchant’s payment processor.

Speed is critical in quick service and long lines drive consumers away. iDriveThru solves this by removing payment, building customer loyalty and retention and delivering in-depth customer analytics. A five-unit Wendy’s franchise in Staten Island is an early adopter.

The solution is flexible to switch payment mechanisms and to expand to solve more merchant problems, says Grinvald. “We’re all about integration, adding value and enhancing experience and merchant revenue.”

Customer Engagement Technology
OPI Consumer Price Scanner
By Optical Phusion

Laws can definitely drive markets, for example, the item pricing law in Massachusetts that says for every 5,000 square feet, retailers need to offer a price checker with printing capability. But Optical Phusion (opticalphusion.com) wanted to deliver much more value than simple price checkers.

OPI did extensive research on retailers’ needs and discovered that they preferred to invest in a solution that not only complies with the law, but offers a return on investment. So OPI developed and beta tested solutions until they arrived at a flexible kiosk design that not only allows consumers to scan UPC to view and/or print item prices via a Motorola scanner, but can also be configured to check inventory at any of the retailer’s stores, interact with loyalty programs and print custom coupons based on past purchases via a Zebra printer mechanism. Consumers can also summon a store attendant from a kiosk.

Extensive research led to a highly refined final configuration, such as encasing the printer to prevent customers from pulling labels before printing was complete.

They also developed a “Video 6” option to work in tandem with the OPI price checker. Video 6 is a video content management tool application that features a management console that enables store managers to customize a promotional message by department or location within the store to alert customers to outstanding deals. Video 6 is also a real-time management tool for the distribution and version control of HD videos to the reseller’s OPI price checkers and electronic signage. In addition, Video 6 enables a tablet to perform multiple functions such as promotional videos, price checking, gift registry and loyalty functions on the same device.

OPI price scanner is installed in several major name brand supermarket and smaller chains, well beyond Massachusetts.

“This has helped us attract new customers not based in Massachusetts,” says Scott Arnold, president of OPI. “We’ve been able to land three to four national accounts and broaden our geography.” Clients can expand their relationship with Video 6 and install a RFID portal reader solution to identify loyalty customers via RFID card as they arrive in store.

POS Solution
Solution for Salon Centric
By Essential Systems Solutions

Salon trade shows are big business for L’Oreal’s Salon Centric professional haircare products division, as much as $1 million for a three-day show. But a cash register system with separate credit card processing, set up and torn down for every event, was leading to entry errors, long training times, weeklong delays in sales reporting and inventory management based on shipment, not sales. Set-up and breakdown was time-consuming for Essential Systems Solutions (esspos.com), entailing complex cable management.

Salon Centric asked for a mobile tablet solution, but a test showed it was unworkable due to high cash volume and the need to use costly on-site Wi-Fi. L’Oreal wanted a small footprint and integration with a back office SAP system to get better visibility into sales and inventory.

ESS POS delivered and then some. Its solution uses Par EverServ 500 terminals with PixelPoint POS, Honeywell barcode scanner and APG 1416 cash drawer that integrate into a neat, 13” by 13” Touch Dynamic all-in-one printer base with Epson TM-T70 printer. ESS POS also designed a wooden shipping container that securely houses 16 terminals staged and ready to go, without the need for time-consuming shrink wrap.

L’Oreal Salon Centric purchased 50 terminals and licenses, and contracts ESS POS for set-up, support and tear down at 18 annual events. Now payment processing is reduced from 25 seconds to three, sales are up 50%, inventory data is available instantly, lines move faster and integrated processing lowered fees. Training is much faster, and Salon Centric can easily bundle products and create new UPCs to drive sales. The system also enables commissions, so the professional salesforce now has reason to drive traffic to shows, says Jason Thompson, president of ESS.

The solution is delivering better performance and is easier to use, says Michael Tash, VP of ESS POS. “The client is extremely happy.” That’s great, because Salon Centric also has 450 stores whose staff also work the shows, creating demand and opportunity for the solution in those stores. It has also opened up a new market opportunity in trade show POS solutions; ESS POS has already added a BBQ festival.

Software Application
By StopLift Checkout Vision Systems

POS-video integration has made identifying and analyzing fraudulent transactions a lot easier. But its Achilles heel is sweethearting, because there is no data for something that was never scanned.

As he worked on an MBA field study on preventing retail shrinkage, Malay Kundu learned that most of the $10 billion in shrinkage is internal and happens at checkout, and as a result many retailers use video surveillance there. “I had that aha moment,” says Kundu, founder and CEO.

Knowing retailers are cost-conscious, with tight margins, he and his development team formed StopLift Checkout Vision Systems (stoplift.com) and designed a solution that uses already installed POS and over-checkout CCTV equipment—analog or IP. Using real video from retailers’ checkouts, they developed ScanItAll, a solution that uses computer vision technology to interpret cashier and customer body motions at checkout. The system analyzes pixels in real time to identify fraudulent behavior, such as failing to scan or covering a barcode, as well as items remaining anywhere in the cart.

The solution includes a secure Web 2.0 interface to view and analyze actionable incidents detected by StopLift. By combining state-of-the-art web video streaming technology with video-to-transaction log synchronization, the ScanItAll web application allows an advanced, intuitive and easy-to-use access to actionable incidents on any of the major web browsers without the need to install additional software.

Retailers can be alerted the first time a fraudulent incident occurs, significantly reducing shrinkage, deterring future theft, and boosting profitability. Retailers often use it to improve training or start building a case, Kundu says.

The SaaS-based system runs on an in-store server running video analytics, and uses existing POS and cameras. “Resellers can resell our hardware or build their own servers: We’re about the software,” says Kundu. ScanItAll is already installed in stores across the globe, where it reduces inventory shrinkage by 10% to 15%, and returns on investment in six to nine months. StopLift is working on a mobile checkout version.

The most recent enhancement is a self-checkout version, the Self Checkout Accelerator, which uses similar technology to improve the self-checkout experience by identifying legitimate behavior that would otherwise cause a system disruption, such as a purse on the scale.

One Step Retail Solutions POS with Genius Customer Engagement Platform
By One Step Retail Solutions and Merchant Warehouse

“Gaze into your crystal ball and tell me what new payment paradigms will win so I know what to buy.” That’s a request heard every day by POS solution providers, including One Step Retail Solutions (onestepretail.com). Keeping merchants up to date on PCI requirements and card association mandates is tough when you know the latest solution may soon need to be upgraded or replaced yet again.

One Step, which serves SMBs of five to 100 stores, approached POS software developer Retail Pro International to find a solution. That ultimately led to Merchant Warehouse and its Genius Customer Engagement Platform: a flexible, user-friendly, hardware-agnostic software platform to accommodate current and future payment paradigms so customers can pay how they want. It also shields POS from sensitive card data through tokenization and offers loyalty and marketing capabilities.

Options include traditional, chip and PIN, mobile wallets or other mobile payment technologies, including NFC, EMV and QR/2D bar codes, as well as integration with retailer loyalty and reward programs. Payment hardware companies now offer products with all of these options; Genius replaces the OS on that hardware and is remote-upgradeable. “It’s like an app store, where you click on an app and add it to your phone,” says Scott Kreisberg, CEO/founder of One Step Retail Solutions. “The usability is something everyone understands.”

After a six-month integration and testing process between Retail Pro and Merchant Warehouse, One Step provided a pilot customer for testing and customer feedback.

Genius is “a great asset for us,” says Kreisberg. For retailers, he says, flexible payment options help SMBs level the playing field with larger chains. That capability is a selling point, and One Step now offers it in LightSpeed and Teamwork Retail POS applications too. But in addition, “the people who have bought it are finding the user interface easy to handle, so they’re not having to call us with a bunch of questions,” Kreisberg says. “It also helps us with PCI compliance by lowering the risk of exposure. We’re number two in line for lawsuits after the manufacturer. We’re really confident in that aspect.”

Mobile Solution
By FoodTec Solutions

Managing food delivery services has long been a seat-of-your-pants operation; even years of experience could be thwarted by kitchen or traffic delays. Previous attempts to solve the problem with dedicated mobile devices and data plans were too costly. As smartphones and cheap data became pervasive, FoodTec Solutions (foodtecsolutions.com) saw the chance to develop a highly impactful solution for current and future customers.

The result was DeliveryIQ, an integrated native Apple and Android solution that tracks food orders and drivers while providing management and consumers with real­time updates, order status and driver location information. The solution leverages GPS sensors, phone-based and in-house mapping capabilities and ping messaging to FoodTec’s cloud to maintain communication among drivers’ phones and the restaurant. DeliveryIQ integrates with POS and kitchen systems.

Using this data, kitchen orders can sync with current demand and delivery promises. Dispatchers or drivers themselves can make intelligent decisions about timing and grouping orders. Drivers can communicate en route with customers—who can track the driver’s progress—and upon arrival, hand the phone to the customer for coupon redemption, payment and gratuity. Order-takers can confidently deliver accurate delivery times to customers at the time or order and via delivery confirmations, increasing customer satisfaction and driver tips. Owners know exactly where their drivers are, increasing their sense of safety and control.

“Restaurants gain the ability to deliver more orders in less time, and do so with fewer drivers,” says Andrew Bounas, president of FoodTec. “Costs are reduced and customer satisfaction increases.”

Early adopters have seen their number of deliveries increase more than 20% with the same number of drivers, fees to drivers increase more than 20%, tips to drivers rise by 10% or more, and average minutes per delivery drop from 24.43 minutes to 21.87 minutes.

DeliveryIQ is the first FoodTec product that can be integrated with other POS systems, opening up a larger market opportunity. That’s particularly attractive as more restaurants add delivery services. “We estimate 20% of restaurants in the country will do delivery in the next couple of years,” says Alan Hayman of Hayman Consulting Group, who is working with FoodTec on marketing and development. VSR

To view the original article visit: http://vsr.edgl.com/magazine/August-2014/The-2014-Innovative-Solution-Awards94322

Friday, August 22, 2014

8 Reasons to Do A Pop-Up Shop

  • by Humayun Khan
  • Posted in Physical Retail
  • June 13, 2014
  • Pop-up shops are the Snapchat of retail; Most of their magic comes from their temporary and "get-it-while-it-lasts" nature.

    In fact, according to Specialty Retail, pop-ups are expected to be a $8 billion a year industry, and has everyone from Warby Parker to popular boy band One Direction trying to get in on the action.
    Not only can the location of a pop-up vary but brands use them for a wide array of purposes, from creating an unforgettable and branded experience for consumers that generate buzz and brand awareness, to quickly testing and experimenting in what used to be costly retail waters. In essence, pop-ups are transforming the way we shop.

    Over the last few months, we've been busy creating resources to help merchants who might have only sold exclusively online to consider thinking about pop-ups shops as another sales channel. From picking and negotiating the perfect location, designing the store interior and displays, to marketing and evaluating your success, we hope to provide everything you'll need to get started.

    Regardless of whether you're considering your first pop-up or have a few under your belt, here are eight reasons why every ecommerce merchant should give pop-up shops a chance.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    Nordstrom Sees Sales Boost From Mobile POS Devices

    Kelly Clay Contributor 

    Long lines are one of the worst nightmares for retailers – especially those with consumers about to make purchases worth hundreds of dollars. For these customers, standing in line for several minutes provides the opportunity to think about the purchase they are about to make. This time can allow customers to think about the necessity of the purchase and the cost, and given too much time to over-analyze the potential purchase, a customer standing in line can easily decide to set aside part of the potential purchase and pay less for fewer items – or even walk away entirely.

    Retailers like Apple and Home Depot recognized the need to eradicate this wait several years ago, providing employees with mobile POS devices that enable them check out customers from anywhere within the store if the customer is paying with a debit or credit card. Employees at Apple’s retail stores have been armed with iOS devices for several years, enabling consumers to easily make purchases without waiting in line. In early 2011, Home Depot introduced their “First Phone” to allow customers to check out from anywhere within the store, also without having to wait in line.
    Now, Nordstrom, the Seattle-based fashion and beauty retailer offering apparel, shoes, makeup and other beauty products, is rolling out mobile point-of-sale (POS) devices throughout their full-line stores, as well as in some of their Nordstrom Rack stores. These mobile POS devices, which is a modified iPod Touch with a merchandise scanner and credit card slider, allow employees to check out customers from anywhere in the store. The app on the device also provides Nordstrom’s sales staff access to the company’s entire inventory, which is useful when helping customers check if an alternative size or color is available elsewhere, without needing a register to look up that information.

    Nordstrom has deployed over 6,000 of these devices throughout their 117 full-line stores, and at some Nordstrom locations, there are more mobile POS devices than regular registers. Colin Johnson, a spokesperson for Nordstrom, says that these devices are part of a larger plan for Nordstrom to help “provide a more technology enabled store experience.” He notes that in 2005, Nordstrom began offering the option to ship merchandise directly to customers, and in 2009 the company integrated inventory with its online store. In 2010, Nordstrom then introduced WiFi into stores to “make it easier for customers to stay connected in the stores by using their mobile devices to shop and to compare and learn more about merchandise.”

    With WiFi, Nordstrom laid a foundation for these new mobile POS devices, which Nordstrom finished initially rolling out in mid-2011 and are primarily being used in B.P. (the trendy young women’s section) and shoes, which is a conglomerate of smaller departments catering towards specific demographics. Other departments using these devices include men’s. At the flagship Nordstrom store in downtown Seattle, most sales associates in these departments can be found armed with a mobile point-of-sale device and using them to checkout customers paying with plastic. When a Nordstrom customer checks out with a mobile POS, they can sign for their purchase and enter an email address for a paperless receipt. For most Nordstrom customers, checking out with a mobile POS is an incredibly intuitive and almost shockingly simple experience.
    Johnson explains that the goal of using the mobile POS for Nordstrom is really to “take care of customer anywhere in the store. We don’t have to take you to the cash register, and instead, can do that right there with you on dressing room or when you’re trying on shoes – and then you’re on your way.” He adds, “that kind of ability to increase speed and convenience is increasingly important.”

    Increasingly important for not just the customer’s convenience, but for Nordstrom’s sales. According to the company’s 2012 March Sales Report, “Preliminary quarter-to-date total retail sales of $1.73 billion increased 15.3 percent compared with total retail sales of $1.50 billion for the same period in fiscal 2011.” Additionally, according to the 2011 Nordstrom Annual Report, “both the average selling price and the number of items sold increased in 2011 compared with 2010.”

    Is it a coincidence that the average number of items sold and the average selling price both increased after implementing mobile point-of-sale devices? While Johnson explains that the new mobile POS at Nordstrom is designed to provide a “faster and more convenient experience for customers and reduce the time it takes time for customers to check out,” he adds that “anything that can help that is beneficial.”

    This efficiency undoubtedly reduces the potential amount of time customers have to think about their purchases before they reach the register. Though consumers may enjoy the convenience these new mobile POS devices offer, both Nordstrom’s 2012 March Sales Report and 2011 sales figures allude to the real benefit of these new mobile point-of-sale devices.

    To view the original article visit: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyclay/2012/04/06/nordstrom-sees-15-3-increase-in-retail-sales-following-introduction-of-mobile-pos-devices/

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    How Did You Hear About Us?

    You have undoubtedly heard that question a multitude of times. "How did you hear about us?" is one of the most important questions a retailer can ask at point of sale and can lead to thousands upon thousands of future sales.
    Your retail management software should support your marketing efforts in every way possible and include a feature for tracking and analyzing where customers have come in from; word of mouth, newspaper ads, mailers, Yelp, a blogger, etc. 

    If your Point of Sale or Retail Management System is not EMPOWERING you as a retailer, give us a call at 800-266-1328

    One Step Retail Solutions has helped thousands of retailers nationwide achieve their retail goals through top of the line retail technology. With a consultative and personal approach, One Step is a top resource for point of sale / retail management systems available on the market. Having been in business for over 27 years we have evolved relationships with specialists industry-wide and strive to bring educational resources to our retailers and other retail friends.

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    Visual Expert Amy Meadows Shares Tips and Thoughts on Making YOUR Shop Windows Matter

    Marshall Field's State Street


    It’s been said that the “eyes are the windows of the soul.” For smart retailers, the windows of your stores are the eyes into your soul. In your windows, you show off what you consider to be your shop’s main draw, your shop’s personality and individuality, and the merchandise that defines your role in the retail community.

    For designer, visual-merchandise consultant, and entrepreneur Amy Meadows, windows are the heart and soul of her business. Working as a go-to guru for well-known department stores and top-of-the-line organizations, Meadows founded Windows Matter (www.windowsmatter.com). Her purpose is to provide a “variety of services, but most specifically to meet the needs of independent businesses and business districts. My programs include assessments, coaching, makeovers and more.”
    Meadows sat down with Smart Retailer to chat about the ins and outs of making your storefront speak clearly and precisely about your business’s purpose.

    SR: What are some of the lessons you impart to your seminar attendees? Do you have some rules or principles they should put into practice:

    AM: I emphasize the need to be clean, consistent, and creative. By “clean,” I mean both in terms of visual clutter and housekeeping. Honestly, make that glass sparkle. It makes a world of difference. For “consistent,” do your signs, your website, and your marketing collateral correspond in terms of font, color, and aesthetics? Sit down and think, “Do my displays and props complement my store’s brands?” For “creative,” I don’t mean “artistry” as much as I mean problem solving. Retailers have to be bright, think fast, and be quick to improvise.
    Marshall Field's State Street
    SR: A lot of retailers are losing business or at least foot traffic to people who browse on the Web. Is there any way to use the cyber world to a retailer’s display advantage?

    AM: Yes, inspiration can come from anywhere, and the Web is a helpful tool in that regard. Maintain a Pinterest board, keep an idea file, be open to what you see around you in life and online. Stay inspired!
    Marshall Field's State Street Window
    SR: What are some of the most common mistakes you see shop owners make with their spaces and displaying?

    AM: I think many try to tell too many stories in their displays. I stress “edit, edit, and edit.” Then edit some more!
    Macy's State Street Store
    SR: If a retailer doesn’t have the money to hire a designer or doesn’t have the cash to redo a store right now, what are some quick tips to make their displays pop?

    AM: This is a simple one. Stand across the street. What do you see? What does your customer see? If objectivity is too difficult, find a buddy who will give you feedback. If nothing more, spend time cleaning, lighting, and addressing details.
    Marshall Field's State Street
    SR: How crucial is it for retailers to have a clever or eye-catching, well-delineated display?

    AM: This is a critical component to your shop’s ultimate success. When all is said and done, your storefront still remains your best advertisement.

    To view the original article please visit: Smart Retailer

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    Back-to-School Shopping Sprees are a Thing of the Past

     Back-to-school shopping sprees are a thing of the past
    Back-to-school shopping is no longer a frenzied one-day spending spree. Families are spending more, but they are doing so over a longer period of time as they search for the best deals.

    Families are expected to spend $670 on average on back-to-school shopping, up 5% from last year, according to data out Thursday from the National Retail Federation. That includes spending on school supplies, clothes and electronics.

    But analysts and parents say the slow economic recovery, plus access to near-constant online deals, means back-to-school shopping is no longer a big event.

    Instead, parents like Tracy Seebold, 48, are shopping strategically — buying online and picking up additional in-store items when necessary. Seebold, who lives in Mifflinburg, Penn., with her children aged 10 and 14, has already purchased a few school items, including new shoes. She says she started now so that she could spread her purchases out over the next couple of months.

    REVIEWED.COM: The children's lunchbox even adults will love

    "We had done a big spree up until a couple years ago, but that's fallen to the wayside," Seebold says. "I love going back-to-school shopping, but it's just not possible this year."

    Seebold, who plans to spend no more than $300 during the official back-to-school season, is limiting her purchases to necessities like notebooks and "first-day" outfits in hopes there will be better deals after school starts.

    Many shoppers are likely spreading out their shopping, says Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economics Advisors. He says the back-to-school season is no longer limited to a single day of shopping in the middle of July or August.

    But just because consumers aren't crowding stores in the weeks leading up to school,that doesn't mean they're not spending more . Rather, Naroff says, consumers with approaches like Seebold's may actually end up spending more over time.

    "It may not be the big push that retailers really expect, but it doesn't mean (consumers) aren't spending," Naroff says.

    Combined spending for back-to-school is expected to reach almost $75 billion — up 3% from last year,

    And it's not just parents seeking out discounts, notes Laura Champine, a retail analyst with Canaccord Genuity.

    "Even kids are price sensitive now ... and are looking for a combination of good prices and good quality and good style," Champine says.

    Brad Wilson of BradsDeals.com says the best way to save on back-to-school shopping is to avoid the school store and bricks-and-mortar stores in general because in-store merchandising efforts are designed to get consumers to buy more. Mark LoCastro, spokesman for DealNews, says if consumers can hold out on their back-to-school shopping until Labor Day sales, they can save even more.
    Some of best deals Wilson recommends: ​

    · Classroom supplies: Walmart and Staples are likely to have the best deals, but Walgreens can also have big discounts, especially at the end of July and early August. Wilson says shopping at these stores online can also save time and money. Staples currently has a coupon for $5 off in-store purchases of $25 or more.

    · Backpacks: Kohl's is offering up to 40% off on backpacks and an additional 15% with the coupon available on BradsDeals.com

    · Technology: Students can receive a $100 gift card from Apple when they buy a Mac or a $50 gift card when they buy an iPad or iPhone if they shop online. (The Apple Education Online Store is one of the only places to offer discounts to people with .edu email addresses.) Otherwise, Wilson says technology re-sellers like Amazon and Best Buy can help save up to $200 on Apple products.
    LoCastro says the best time to purchase laptops is in August, which is when 62% of all 2013 laptop deals occurred.

    Camie Donohue lives in Minnetonka, Minn., and has two elementary school-aged children. Like Seebold, she says she's limiting her budget and skipping the back-to-school shopping spree. Fortunately for Donohue, her children's school makes the classroom portion of the supply list easy with a prepackaged box available for purchase — a trend Wilson says is becoming popular among parents and schools, though he says families could save 30% to 40% by doing their own shopping online.

    "If I went through every single item (in the box) and price compared, I could probably save a couple dollars," Donohue says. "But that's time I'd rather spend comparing the price of snow boots than pencils."

    To view the original article visit: USA TODAY

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

    The Millennial Way of Shopping: More Careful, Durable, and Frugal Than You Think


    Remember all those articles in the early aughts about how millennials were egotistical, privileged brats who copied whatever Paris Hilton did? (Side note: Hey, remember Paris Hilton?) As the Seattle Times put it in 2005, these kids had become ”the best-dressed, least-able, least-equipped generation ever.”

    None of this is true— at least, not any more. Thanks in no small part to the worst economy since the Great Depression, millennials turned into functioning adults. They have a little less disposable income than they expected, which means that consumer companies are now changing to serve them. It turns out that today’s 18-to-34 set likes clothes and gadgets and cool stuff just as much as earlier cohorts; they just don’t buy quite so much.

    A study by the Intelligence Group, part of the Creative Artists Agency, tracked the shopping habits of 1,300 people aged 18 to 34 (as well as a smaller group of those aged 14 to 17.) A little more than a third of the millennials in the study buy only “necessary” purchases—not exactly the prodigal children of popular imagination.
    “Every young generation gets criticized by the older ones,” says Jamie Gutfreund, chief strategy officer of the Intelligence Group. “Gen X were slackers, boomers were those crazy hippies.” The millennials, she points out, “came of age during a period of unprecedented economic wealth and were the most materially gifted generation that had ever existed before.” It all amounted to a reputation for materialism in the early 2000s—until everything changed with U.S. economic turmoil. Joining the labor force during and after the recession, with its stunted job market, “was a little bit of a perfect storm,” Gutfreund says. “They’re now much more specific and intentioned with what they buy.”

    As a millennial, I always enjoy an opportunity to turn to my older counterparts and say: “See, I’m not as narcissistic and entitled as you thought!” But if you’ve been paying attention to generational trends, the new study fits perfectly with other research that’s been done on millennials’ financial savviness and caution. A lot of this is the result of a recession from which many young people still haven’t recovered. The average college graduate now enters the job market owing about $30,000—just under the $34,500 average salary that someone with an undergraduate degree makes right out of college. (Which, by the way, is the lowest starting pay since 1998.)

    In fact, a 2010 report from the Urban Institute found that the current generation has an average level of wealth 7 percent lower than people in their twenties and thirties enjoyed in 1983; this trend predated the recession. And considering the income stagnation that has dislodged the American middle class from being the world’s wealthiest, things might not improve for millennials for quite some time.

    That doesn’t mean millennials won’t go shopping. They just do it differently than preceding generations. And in order to get their attention, companies need new approaches to marketing.
    Nearly three-fourths of millennials do online research before buying a product. They also “prioritize access over ownership,” as the Intelligence Group study puts it, which basically means millennials prefer Spotify and Netflix (NFLX) to CDs and DVDs. This non-ownership tendency extends to the rise of Zipcar (CAR), Rent the Runway, and services that don’t require a major financial commitment. When researchers ask millennials what they value, Gutfreund says responses tend to focus on experiences such as travel—things, she notes, ”that can’t be taken away from them.”
    When young people do buy something, they shy from flash-in-the-pan trends to favor more durable purchases. In response, the Intelligence Group notes, companies have been “de-branding” their designs. Denim companies, for example, are selling a lot of dark and plain jeans that will stay in style for years. And the browsing habits of millennials favor brands with seamless digital-to-storefront experience whereby what’s available online is also what’s available in stores.

    This newly frugal generation has also inspired a rise in peer-to-peer, online resale markets. The Intelligence Group reports that more than half of millennials consider the resale value of an item before they make a big purchase. A lot of this is still done through established third-party sites such as EBay (EBAY) and Craigslist, but retailers like Patagonia have started to get in on the action, too.
    There is one money-spending trend that the Intelligence Group study doesn’t fully explore. Millennials are about to enter the home-buying, family-starting age en masse, and that’s when big-ticket purchases become unavoidable. Right now, millennials make up about 25 percent of the U.S. workforce and spend about $200 billion a year. By 2020, when they will become the majority of the workforce, the study estimates, their annual spending will have doubled.

    Just don’t expect them to buy houses and raise families the way their parents did. “They watched their parents work, work, work, buy the big house, and then lose their pension and have it taken away from them,” says Gutfreund. “They’re looking at that model and thinking, ‘I want to do this differently.’”

    To view the original article please visit: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-25/millennials-are-careful-frugal-shoppers-who-buy-for-the-long-term

    Friday, July 25, 2014

    How to Dress for the First Date

    When you ask a couple how they met, the most common response these days is, “We met online.” “We met online,” has become the new, “We met at a bar.” The dating culture has changed, with the advancement of technology from Match, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, Tinder and OkCupid, just to name a few. You can Skype, email, text, face time and talk on the phone to someone for days on end, until you finally agree to a first date and meet in person. The dating game has changed, but one thing remains the same; the pressure and stress of what to wear on a first date.
    We’ve all been in that situation with butterflies in our stomach, unsure of how to make the best first impression, without looking like we’re trying too hard. It is a job in itself, to find the perfect outfit to make you look presentable and appealing on a first date because who knows, they could be the one.
    We decided to pull some fashion styles from popular bloggers to help cease the crinkles in your forehead, because you should relax and enjoy your first date. After all, you probably already researched them out on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn and read their online profile from top to bottom a few times.
    By: The One Step Retail resident blogger, Michelle Toyoshima
    These fun, chic, summer outfits would be perfect for a first date. You can go out for a nice dinner wearing this skirt, or dress down a little with this tank and white pants.  Check out these styles at J’s Everyday Fashion.
    If you want to wear something a little more posh, check out the dress selections from www.refinery29.com
    Meet Kendi and her husband Bryan; she will coax him into modeling every once in a while on her blog when he allows it. These outfits would be perfect for a first date to meet the potential love of your life.  Kendi Every day is described as a style blog for the everyday girl.
    This super cute fall outfit is perfect for looking dressy and casual with these high Ash boots. Check out the Fashionita for trendy ensembles at affordable prices.
    This jeans outfit can be worn on a casual first date to coffee or lunch while the black leggings and boots give a dressier style. Casual Chic Fashion offers tips and tricks on how to get the right look at a cheap price.
    This back lace dress is great for a summer night out and I like how the belt allows you to add your own sense of style. The second outfit gives a great first impression because it shows class with the shoes and stylish purse, but the jacket and boyfriend jeans give off the edgy flare, “I know how to relax and have fun.” Gal Meets Glam is the perfect fashion blog offering girlie trends with spiced up of casual styles.
    Men – If you are looking for a blog that will have outfits ready and laid out for you, Style Girlfriend is just the blog for you. There are relevant articles to the latest trends with outfits premade, and with pictures so you know exactly how to dress for that perfect first date.

    TSB men was probably one of my favorite fashion blogs for men. Not only did they have a large array of casual and dressy outfits, but they had fun articles like, “Finding Jeans for Athletic Thighs.”
    Good luck to all of you out there going on your first date. We might not be able to help with the level of chemistry, but hopefully these blogs and photos offered some tips on how to dress for the perfect date.  

    Monday, July 21, 2014

    9 Top Blogs Retail Executives Should Read

    Posted by on

    There’s definitely no shortage of retail blogs out there to help you keep up with the latest retail trends and learn some tips to improve your retail store or your area of retail expertise. We filtered out some of the noise for you and put together a list of some of our favorite retail-specific blogs. The list below packs something for every company or executive – each blog we’ve selected approaches retail topics with its own unique perspective.
    The Retail Touchpoints blog is an excellent source to keep up on the latest tips and trends to serve retail customers better. In addition to the blog, the Retail Touchpoints website is a great place to find research and reports, as well as insights from top retail executives across all retail topics from marketing to operations. The website also has a Solutions Spotlight section where some of the top retail solutions are highlighted so retail executives can stay on top of the latest technologies and tools.
    NRF     twitter
    Looking for a broadview take on where retail is now, and where it’s heading? NRF brings regional, national and global stories to its readers with the diligence, breadth and relevance for which the National Retail Federation is best known.
    Shopify     twitter
    Shopify’s blog has something everyone will love and learn from. This innovative publication features highly relevant and detailed case studies, productivity app suggestions, marketing innovations and top-notch selling suggestions. For some variety in your retail reading, bookmark Shopify at once.
    Retail Minded is a leading destination for the independent retail store. Established in 2007, this thorough online publication is a heavy hitter. Whether your speciality is inventory, trade shows, marketing or customer service, Retail Minded has topics small retailers will want to add to their reading list.
    Retail Focus     twitter
    If you want the latest on retail design and display, Retail Focus delivers. This online magazine puts the emphasis on aesthetics – and the result is a powerful, cutting-edge publication that delivers the top news on what major retailers across the world are designing for their stores and projects.
    For a comprehensive look at online retailing today, Internet Retailer does not disappoint. This publication delivers the freshest news, key data, feature articles and insightful analysis of current retail strategies.
    Vend     twitter
    From tips on boosting your profit margins to insider looks at what consumers are actually thinking, Vend is here to help. This corporate blog delivers fresh content on a regular basis that is of real use to small to mid-size retail chains. This one is not to be missed.
    Retail research, data and analysis company Forrester’s blog is full of rich data and insights that can help retailers today make smart decisions and drive sales. This blog is a highly-regarded way to get a look at retail today, based on the evidence: real data and real interviews with retail’s top executives.
    Doug Stephens is one of the industry’s foremost retail futurists. Voted by Vend as one of retail’s top global influencers, his blog is full of pertinent information retailers need to have access to. As an author, speaker and brand advisor, Doug delivers his predictions and insights in a timely and skilled fashion.
    There you have it! Making time to keep up with the latest retail trends and tips can be challenging, but these top-notch blogs should definitely make your short list of must-reads. Which ones did we miss that should have made it in our top 9? Let us know in the comments.
    - See more at: http://www.shoppinpal.com/9-top-blogs-retail-executives-should-read/#sthash.wojNo0P3.dpuf
    To view the original article visit: ShoppinPal

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

    Meet the Retail Expert

    One Step Retail Solutions chatted with retail expert, Dan Jablons of Retail Smart Guys, to learn about the best retail solutions for your business! President of Retail Smart Guys, Dan comes with over 30 years of retail experience and has worked with a leading POS provider, and top retailers such as Diesel, Oakley, Tumi, Target and many others. Dan graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Production from Ohio State University and has been making his mark in the retail industry ever since. We were very fortunate to steal a moment from him, so we could pick his brain about what’s in store for the future of retail.
    What makes you a retail expert?
    I have over 30 years of retail experience, including store management, buying, and operations management, as well as ample experience in software and management tools used in retail stores,  in over 14 different countries.

    What do you like best about the retail industry?
    The excitement of working with people on the bleeding edge of the market place. I love the creativity and excitement that independent retailers bring to the marketplace!

    How can retailers increase sales?
    There are two key components to help drive sales: email marketing and a series of in store events. It is important to send at least two emails a week to customers.   It is also important to and have a series of in store events that are fun and compelling and give customers a reason to go shopping.

    What suggestions do you have for people looking into new Retail Technology?
     Retail technology is vital because connecting a POS system with strong planning systems allows inventory forecasting, protects cash flow and maximizes investment. The biggest investment is having the tools to manage what happened so you’re able to prepare yourself for what is going to happen.

    What advice can you give a new retail business?
    1.    Make sure you are buying for your customers and not buying for yourself.

    2.    Invest in purchasing the best measurement tools so you can keep track of your sales and inventory.

    3.    Recognize that retail is a science and an art. Work with people that can assist you with the science pieces as well as the art pieces.

    What are some new retail trends you’ve noticed in the industry?
    There is tighter integration with customer demand to get the right inventory, at the right place, at the right time.
    What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
    Retail is detail. The solution of problems means digging into details, to manage the demands in any retail store.

    Thanks very much for your time Dan! We appreciate the retail expert advice and look forward to working with you again soon!

    Tuesday, July 8, 2014

    Retailers Look to Score in World Cup

    Sports have always been an integral part of American culture from the fans, to the highlights, and just some good old competition that keeps the blood pumping. There is a huge market for American athletics, but nothing compares to the camaraderie that unites strangers from across the globe for the World Cup. People are brought together to cheer for their home country, but also for teams around the world decked out in jerseys with faces painted. It’s an amazing time that only comes around once every four years and retailers are seeing this opportunity to score.  
    Promotions That Play on the Emotions of Consumers Can Generate More Traffic in Stores

    Updated June 25, 2014 9:58 p.m. ET

    It reads like a retail riddle: How can a consumer earn nearly €2,000 by spending €949 on a new television?
    The deal is part of a competition that was organized by the Media World chain in Italy last month, tied to a much larger competition: the World Cup. Shoppers who bet on an Italian victory in the soccer tournament could get a 200% discount on their purchase if their home team wins.
    European retailers are using games, contests, giveaways and discounts in an attempt to score a sales boost from the World Cup. The decline in consumer spending in countries such as Italy in the past decade has led supermarkets to increase the number of promotions and discounts, as well as broadening their product ranges to attract more customers. The sports event is a rare occasion for tight-fisted shoppers in countries such as Italy, Spain and France to loosen their purse strings and get out more.
    "When it is the World Cup, we become easily targeted consumers because everyone gets together to watch these types of games," says Alicia Claros, a 31-year-old stylist in Madrid, who has watched some of the matches in restaurants. "When there is football, people forget about everything else apart from what's connected to the game."
    A supermarket in Antwerp, Belgium, was selling soccer-themed flowers as the country prepared for the World Cup. European Pressphoto Agency
    Food shopping is boring, so any chance to make it not feel like a chore is an opportunity," says Sanford retail analyst Bruno Monteyne —who is cheering on the Belgian team. He expects the World Cup to tack on 1% of growth for the month it runs—not an insignificant increase for a sector that ekes out a couple of percentage points of growth at best.
    Innovative promotions that play on the emotional involvement of consumers can be successful in generating more traffic for retailers, according to Sandro Castaldo, a professor of economics at Bocconi University in Milan. Yet the investment they require is often significant.
    "The benefit from this type of promotion can be significant for the limited period the promotion is related to, but very often doesn't translate to a steady rise in revenue," Prof. Castaldo says. "Consumers are no longer loyal."
    There is a lot of guessing of match results going on for both shoppers and retailers. Many of the promotions depend on the ability of consumers to forecast the outcome of home-team games. Carrefour asked the French to predict the score of France's first three games to win back the cost of their new TV.
    In some cases, it seems the better the national team, the fewer the chances to save. Spain won the last World Cup and was tipped to be a finalist in this year's tournament. So this year, the retail promotions were tied more to general World Cup forecasts, not Spain's performance, which turned out to be a savvy move given Spain's surprising exit from the tournament in the first round.
    The Spanish department store chain El Corte Ingl├ęs organized a contest to win a year's worth of Mahou beer for correctly guessing the two teams playing in the July 13 final. The home electronics chain Media Markt in Spain, another division of Metro, ran a similar promotion in May on sales of screens televisions, tablets and computers. Thanks to the promotion, the consumer electronics chain enjoyed a 50% spike in sales of 55in and larger television sets, compared with the same period a year earlier, a spokeswoman said.
    The bar is lower for games in countries with weaker teams. In Belgium, which hasn't participated in the World Cup for 12 years, Carrefour is running a giveaway of €50,000 ($68,000) if the team makes it to the semifinals. (Belgium, it turns out, is off to a strong start and is already through to the last 16.)
    Often all fans need is to stock up on provisions for the game. Convenience stores, which don't run many contests, could be some of the biggest beneficiaries of the World Cup. "They're open later at night than supermarkets, so if you run out of beer and snacks you can go out and buy some," says Daniel Latev, head of retailing research and market data researcher Euromonitor.
    British retailer Morrisons said that it expected a 25% bounce in beer sales last weekend, the first time the England team took to the field. Sales of disposable barbecues and picnic-ware also soared, the chain said.
    However, another factor that is even more unpredictable than soccer results may be in play here: the weather. In a study released last week, the data tracker Nielsen said that a three-degree rise in temperature has a greater impact on retail sales than three goals scored by French striker Karim Benzema.
    —Neetha Mahadevan in Frankfurt and Olivia Crellin in Madrid contributed to this article
    Write to Christina Passariello at christina.passariello@wsj.com, Manuela Mesco at manuela.mesco@wsj.com and Christopher Bjork at christopher.bjork@wsj.com
    To view the original article please visit: The Wall Street Journal